Why the USA Shouldn’t Participate in FIBA

I would have never guessed that a quote from Thucydides would pop into my head as I watched the USA basketball team play Serbia in the championship game. But I guess I have my Poli Sci class to thank for that.

FIBA sign

FIBA sign

The International Basketball Federation, aka FIBA, just finished their 17th world cup games. It was always a competitive tournament up until the last 8 years, where the USA team has dominated. Therefore, no surprise that this year team USA took home the gold medal, without much contest. The final score for the championship game was 129 to 92. That is nowhere near being a close game, especially for the championship game.

During lecture the quote that really stuck out to me was the key take away from the Melian dialogue “The strong will do what they can and the weak will suffer what they must”. Thucydides described how the very powerful Athenians gave the Melians an ultimatum; surrender or be destroyed. The much smaller Melians tried to reason with the Athenians saying they were neutral and saw no reason for a fight. But the Athenians would not back down. The Melians had too much pride to surrender, and had nothing to lose so they decided to fight.

Lebron James throwing down

Lebron James throwing down

Throughout the whole tournament team USA was the Athenians and anyone we played were the Melians. Every country knew they were going to lose; all they could do was play there hardest and hope that the score is somewhat respectable. These other teams couldn’t just forfeit the game against team USA so they would play, knowing that no one expected them to win. So even if they made it a close game, it would be a positive for them.

I could not help but wonder what these teams were thinking as they went into the game versus USA. The “strong” USA team would literally do anything they wanted, throwing crazy alley oops and beating teams by 30 points. Where the “weak” just had to suffer until the game was over. In the game versus Finland, team USA more than doubled Finland’s score, which is horribly embarrassing.

In my opinion playing in the FIBA tournament is only a bad thing for team USA and I think we should stop playing in it. We know that we are the most basketball dominant country in the world. No one is impressed if we win, and if we ever lose it will be an extremely brutal blow to our self-esteem. Not only that but it leads to unnecessary injury. Paul George is a perfect example. The Indiana Pacers were one of the favorites to win it all next year; a main reason was because of their stud Paul George. But now they are not because Paul George severely injured his lower right leg in a scrimmage preparing for the FIBA tournament. If he had not been on the team or if USA didn’t participate in the tournament he would never been injured. I am positive that if you ask any Pacer’s fan, they will tell you that it was stupid for him to be playing for FIBA. Not worth it at all.

Athenians

Athenians at War

Also, if the US does not play in the games it allows for another team to win. It actually means something to them and their country. We have proven that we are the strong. It is time to allow the weak to stop suffering from team USA. Let the weak play the weak, and then it will at least be competitive.

USA Basketball Logo

USA Basketball Logo

Team USA is just too good and to valuable to be playing in the FIBA tournament. Maybe the Athenians should have done the same against the Melians. Yes, they beat the Melians but for what? They were expected to win so no one was impressed and they ended up losing a lot of resources for a pointless victory. Just like losing Paul George in a pointless scrimmage. When you know you are the best, you do not need to go out and do meaningless things just to keep proving your dominance.

– Johnny Luciani

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2 thoughts on “Why the USA Shouldn’t Participate in FIBA

  1. If team USA does not compete in future FIBA tournaments, we as a nation would be indirectly insulting all the other countries who participate. We would effectively be telling them that we know they are not good enough to beat us, and therefore we aren’t even going to bother giving them a shot. Inherent in competition is the drive to beat those who are better then you and by removing ourselves from the field of play, the USA would be depriving the other teams from achieving “the ultimate upset”. It is also important to remember that if we stop participating in the FIBA tournament, it opens up USA basketball to disappear all together. If a player can get hurt in FIBA, then a player can also get hurt in the Olympics, and then suddenly we don’t compete ever again. But I do agree with you that measures should be taken to better secure the safety of the players to prevent injury, just not by stoping all participation in tournaments.

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    • I think you made some good points about preventing injuries and a good connection to Thucydides’ Melian Dialogue. I agree that the proven superstars in the NBA, like a Paul George, should sit out of the FIBA games because for them, getting injured obviously is not worth it. Plus, team USA would still have plenty of players to choose from to field a winning team since the NBA is majority American. However, I do believe Team USA should continue playing in the games. The Athenians attacked the Melians because they knew they would look weak if they didn’t, since they were the stronger power. Similarly, we would look weak and scared for not participating in something we should easily win. Since basketball is an American game, it would be wrong of us not to compete on the national stage. Also, the US participation in the games has helped enhance the international game and attract international support. People from other countries watch to see the Americans and it gives the NBA much more recognition, which leads to more money. One of the main goals the NBA has been successful with since the David Stern era is attracting more international players and fans, and USA basketball has been a big part of that success. Lastly, if superstars don’t play in the games, younger players are provided with an opportunity in the spotlight to get better. In the 2010 games, a young, unproven Kevin Durant lead the US to a gold medal. This experience gave him great confidence, which allowed him to elevate into one of the best players in the world.

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